Hinting at the possibility of launching a ground incursion into Gaza, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said that Israel must not end its offensive in the coastal Strip as a temporary fix will only create problems later.
“If this operation ends now, it is clear to all that it would be just a break before the fourth operation – and that’s not worth a thing,” Lieberman told Ynet in an interview.
The Israeli Foreign Minister also hinted at the possibility of an IDF ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, something which senior Israeli officials have long warned could happen if the rocket fire on Israeli communities did not cease.
“You must understand that all options are on the table,” the leader of right-wing Yisrael Beteinu party, which recently broke away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party as a single bloc in the parliament because of differences in approach, said.
Israel has amassed some 40,000 reservists near the Gaza border since the start of the operation Protective Edge a week ago who are waiting for orders from the political echelon to march in.
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The foreign minister also said that there were international efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s militant rulers Hamas, warning that Hamas would use such a truce as an opportunity to rearm.
“We feel that the international community is trying to bring peace at any price, and treat every proposal seriously,” Lieberman told the news portal.
“During Pillar of Defence (the 2012 operation), we saw rockets reaching the outskirts of Tel Aviv, and now we see rockets reaching as far as Hadera (in the north). Hamas exploits (ceasefire) every time out to produce more rockets and increase its range.”
Egypt and other Arab states, as well as Quartet envoy, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, have been pushing for a crease-fire to end the current round of fighting, that has seen the Israeli Air Force strike more than 1,000 targets in Gaza and Hamas and its allies fire more than 700 rockets at Israel.
Lieberman also warned against a ‘temporary fix’ to the situation, which he said would “only blow up in Israel’s face at a later stage”.
“When you put off the problem and you do not solve it, it will later explode. You cannot make peace with Hamas. They do not want order. They say – ‘We want to erase the Zionist entity.’
“We do not want to be the neighbourhood bully, but Hamas is already preparing for the next round and will in any event prepare more tunnels and missiles, just more long-range and perhaps more accurate. The next round is inevitable,” he asserted.